by Álvaro Sahún April 19, 2022
David Heinemeier Hansson is, quote: "the creator of Ruby on Rails, cofounder of Basecamp & HEY, best-selling author, Le Mans class-winning racing driver, antitrust advocate, frequent podcast guest, and family man." He was kind enough to spare some time in his busy agenda to answer our questions about his career and passion for racing.
Tom Kristensen bears the primary responsibility of sparking the dream of Le Mans. Following his incredible career there somehow connected it as something possible, because we're both Danes. Which doesn't really make much sense, if you think about it. But that's the power of national role models, it's about sparking the dream, the emotion.
David, on the right side of the image, took the 2014 win in the GTE-Am Class in Le Mans
I didn't try a race car until I was 27. So quite a late starter! But I always played a lot of racing video games. Like Metropolitan Street Racer on the Dreamcast and Gran Turismo. I also didn't get my driver's license until I was 25, though, so! I knew, however, after I drove my first real race car, a Formula Mazda, that I just wanted more and more!
It was that Formula Mazda. A friend of mine took me to a track near Chicago called Autobahn. I did maybe 1-2 hours in the car, and I was SPENT. In the most joyous way possible. So many impressions, my brain was working over time. It was true flow.
The first LMP2 experience I had was driving at Sebring in 2012. I had driven a lot of Radical cars before that, so it wasn't totally alien, but it was still very new. It felt like a Radical in many ways, just so much better. I immediately knew this was the category for me.
Not a sheet of paper could fit between the two cars...
Yeah, my career highlight of winning Le Mans happened in GT with Aston Martin in 2014. And I've enjoyed some great drives in GT. Finished 3rd at Le Mans with Porsche as well in GT. But really, I'm a prototype driver. That's what I enjoy the most, that's what I'm best at. I just click better with downforce than I do with mechanical grip.
Patrick Long was the first big-time pro I drove with who really taught me a lot. Was very happy to drive with him at Le Mans in 2016 as well. But also good mentions to Olivier Pla for my first WEC season in 2013. Learned a lot studying his data. Those were the early influences. Some of the highlights were also driving with Beche and Nelson Piquet Jr in 2017 with Rebellion. I drove the best Le Mans in prototype of my career with them.
Patrick is awesome. He's both incredibly competitive, eager to push the teams, and yet very aware of the role of the pro when driving with gentleman drivers like myself. It's not just about being the fastest driver, it's about having the fastest car, which requires lifting all boats.
I was/am stuck with a weird rating. That of the silver driver. After 2016 forward, the silver rating got handed to a lot of very fast professional drivers. That took a lot of the joy out of the experience for me, and in 2019 came to a head when I was competing in GTE-AM as literally the only amateur with a silver rating, against 10 other cars with professional "silvers". I bailed on that program that year because of it. But now I hear that true reform is coming for 2023, pushed by SRO, who really understand the importance of amateur rankings. So I'm more optimistic now than I was.
I thought I was done, but after spending a year out of racing, I'm actually ready to get back in. We'll see if I can find a program that makes sense to make that happen, but at least now I want to!
Haha, both my older boys like gokarting. And they're already quite fast! But in a way I hope they just treat it as a hobby. It's a very tough life trying to make a career of it.
by Álvaro Sahún December 17, 2021Read More
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